BUHARI FLINGS THE CONSTITUTION AND THE POLICE ACT INTO THE BIN: EXTENDS ADAMU’S TENURE AS IGP

Mohammed Abubakar Adamu joined the Nigeria Police Force on February 2, 1986. He was appointed the 20th Inspector General of Police of Nigeria (IGP) by President Muhammadu Buhari on 15 January 2019. Prior to his appointment, he was an Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG).

Adamu’s tenure expired on 1 February 2021 when he clocked 35 years in service. He will turn 60 on 17 September 2021. The President has now extended his tenure by 3 months. The reason furnished was that the President needs some time to appoint a new IGP. According to the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammad Dingyadi

Mr President has decided that the present IGP, Mohammed Adamu, will continue to serve as the IG for the next three months, to allow for a robust and efficient process of appointing a new IG…

The President’s decisions in matters of this nature are not drawn from his personal diary. The powers of the President are drawn from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and other statutes. The affairs of the Nigeria Police Force are well-captured under the Constitution and the Police Act 2020. The Act repealed the Police Act Cap. P19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

Section 215 (2) of the Constitution provides that the Nigeria Police Force shall be under the Command of the IGP. Meanwhile, Section 214(2)(a) provides that the Nigeria Police shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly. Such Act is the Police Act 2020.

Section 216(2) of the Constitution directs that the President shall consult the Nigeria Police Council before making any appointment to the office of the IGP or removing the IGP from office. By virtue of Paragraph 27 of Third Schedule to the Constitution and Section 6 of the Police Act, members of the Nigeria Police Council comprises:

(a) the President who shall be the Chairman;

(b) the Governor of each State of the Federation;

(c) the Chairman of the Police Service Commission; and 

(d) the Inspector-General of Police.

The Police Council is the highest policy making body in matters concerning the affairs of the Police.

By Section 7(3) of the Police Act, the President shall appoint the IGP based on advice by the Police Council. The person to be appointed must be from among serving members of the Police Force. Section 7(2) of the Act provides:

The person to be appointed as Inspector General of Police shall be a senior police officer not below the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police with the requisite academic qualification of not less than a first degree or its equivalent, in addition to professional or management experience.

The Police Act provides for the period of service for Police officers generally. Section 18(8) of the Act provides:

Every police officer shall, on recruitment or appointment, serve in the Nigeria Police Force for 35 years or until the age of 60 years, whichever is earlier.

By law, Adamu is currently not a serving police officer

As stated above, Adamu’s tenure expired on 1 February 2021 when he recorded 35 years in service, and will turn 60 on 17 September 2021. By Section 18(8) of the Act, Adamu clocked 35 years of service before his 60th birthday. Thus, his time as a police officer has ended. Being a police officer is the plank upon which he stood to enjoy appointment as the IGP. Now, that plank has been broken by the force of the statutory period of service. It means he is naturally ineligible to be considered or reconsidered for the office of IGP for whatever reason. Although by Section 7(6), Adamu had four years to function as IGP, the 35 years of service has put an end to his reign. His remaining two years is considered spent by operation of law. 

The Police Act in Section 9(6) provides for when a retired police officer may be re-engaged in service. The IGP has the powers to re-engage such an officer for a period of two years. Buhari cannot find support in this section because the Act never made such provision for the benefit of the IGP. Besides, there is no evidence that Adamu has been re-engaged as a police officer before we talk about being appointed as IGP. Worse still, there is nothing in the Act which empowers the President to re-engage the IGP. 

There is nothing to show that the Police Council was in concert with the President in his decision to extend the tenure of Adamu without any legal backing.

Buhari went against some objective principles of the Police Act

The objective of the Police Act is to provide for a more efficient and effective police service that is based on the principles of accountability and transparency, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and partnership with other security agencies.

By extending the tenure of Adamu without any legal backing, Buhari seems to have gone against some of the objective principles of the Police Act which are accountability and transparency. The President and his advisers had ample time to prepare and shop for Adamu’s replacement.

Buhari appear to have set a precedent for statutory breaches. Bad precedent is a forerunner for retrogression. By his act, Buhari appears to have flinged the Constitution and the Police Act into the bin. It is left for the other organs of the Government like the National Assembly and the Judiciary to pick the legislations up and restore them to their pride of place.

 

Featured Image Credit: Premium Times.



Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has worked with a number of startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.
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